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Vancouver Olympic village proves a slippery slope
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The organizers of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics are open to ideas on how the city can save money on completing the athletes' village.

This much, however, is clear: The organizing committee isn't considering cuts of its own.

"In our budget, the No. 1 priority is to protect the athletes' conditions for the games," said John Furlong, chief executive officer of VANOC. "That isn't to say we wouldn't work with the city to look at anything they come up with that's an idea."

The village is the only major construction Olympic project yet to be finished. All the sports venues are built and test events are being held this winter.

The city has been covering the cost of construction on the village since October, when the lender stopped payment pending a renegotiation of a $612 million construction loan taken out by the developers. They're now looking to borrow the remaining $374 million needed to get the village done on time in case the deal falls through.

The city hasn't yet suggested it would change the design or specifications of the village. Under the terms of a 2007 guarantee on the construction loan, the city committed to delivering the project in accordance with the developer's original guidelines.

VANOC is expected to take possession of the village's 1,100 units and other facilities this fall. Two-thirds of the housing units are to be sold to the public after the games or will be used as rentals, while 250 will be set aside for social and affordable housing.

Overall, the development has a budget of $816 million, taking into account the cost of the prime waterfront land, construction and cost overruns. Another athletes' village is being built in Whistler, where the skiing will take place, to house 2,400 athletes and officials. It has a separate budget.

Furlong said he is getting questions from the international community about the Vancouver village and has briefed the International Olympic Committee.

"When you look at our project in general over the life of it, I think there's a high degree of optimism and respect for the amount of work that's been accomplished," Furlong said. "This is one obviously nobody is very happy about but I think there is a belief that we have the focus and the attitude, the determination and the belief to get this to where it needs to be."

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